As what was initially expected, U.S President Barack Obama has lifted the arms embargo that the country has imposed on its former enemy during the Second World War, a move that was seen to escalate the tension in the South China Sea in an unprecedented level.
Obama’s decision to lift the arms embargo came amid the intensified military activity of China in the highly contested territory in the region. Obama announced the monumental decision on Monday, during the Vietnam leg of his Asian tour.
This, according to an article from Reuters, underscores the commitment of the United States to make its effort felt to have a ‘rebalance’ in the region as it seals continued diplomatic cooperation with Vietnam. But observers fear that this action from the U.S. will further fuel China’s aggression in the region.
According to a report from Time, no matter how Obama would try to deny that the decision to finally put an end to the arms embargo it imposed over Vietnam has nothing to do with China, the signs are saying otherwise.
It added that even if Obama would deny the link between the lifting of the arms embargo with China’s aggression in the region, this would only buy time. But it wouldn’t take that long before China reacts to this action by the U.S in a form of military reaction.
Tom Pepinsky, a southeast Asian expert said Obama’s action was nothing but about China. He added that lifting of arms embargo is largely motivated by the regional conflicts and Vietnam plays a crucial role in this campaign since Vietnam shares a border with China.
“Although the Obama Administration denies that continued tensions in the South China Sea are at the heart of its decision to resume arms exports to Vietnam, this decision signals U.S. plans to contain China’s regional ambitions with Vietnam as a partner,” Pepinksy was quoted as saying by Time.